Story By: SCOTT SMITH / NHRA – KENT, WA – In the process of trying to grab his first career NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series victory, Scott Palmer is learning what it takes to put together a win.
That means an aggressive mindset, consistency in a multitude of conditions and combining it all when it counts. Thanks to a recent surge and shift in approach, the Top Fuel veteran may be closer than ever.
He advanced to his second career final round earlier this month, has moved back into the top 10 in a loaded class and appears to be making considerable strides at the right time. Heading into his sponsor’s race, the 32nd annual Magic Dry Organic Absorbent NHRA Northwest Nationals, Aug. 2-4 at Pacific Raceways, Palmer is eager to grab a victory and having it come to close out the famed NHRA Western Swing would qualify as perfect timing.
“We’ve been working towards running harder on race day and our whole mindset is we’re trying to win a race,” Palmer said. “To win a race, you have to win some rounds, so that thinking is only going to help you. Our goals are different this year and we’re trying to get more aggressive in the summertime conditions. We plan on taking that shot to win. It’s trying to be more aggressive in the heat. It took a while, but we had to stick with it. We want to win a race, not be conservative.”
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Tanner Gray (Pro Stock) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1 and the FOX national broadcast network, including live final eliminations on FOX starting at 4 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Aug. 4. Sitting in the shadows of majestic Mount Rainier and surrounded by towering tree, the picturesque event is the 16th of 24 races during the 2019 NHRA season.
Palmer can sense the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship around the corner, but his chief concern is a victory, not the points standings. If his team puts together a run like they did in Epping, where he only lost to the red-hot points leader Steve Torrence in the final round, the points will take care of themselves. A third straight playoff appearance is up for grabs, but Palmer, who has gone from 12th to ninth in the past two races, believes his team is plenty capable of winning a race.
“We’re going to this race with that same mentality, and that’s to try to win the race,” Palmer said. “We’re ready to go. Everything in our trailer has been checked and all you can ask for is an opportunity to win a race. I feel like we have a car that can do that, and that’s pretty impressive. Even if you come close, you’re going to win rounds and that’s going to put you in the Countdown.”
A victory in Seattle would be meaningful for Palmer, who campaigns the 11,000-horsepower Magic Dry Organic Absorbent dragster. Palmer continues to be incredibly grateful for the opportunity to race full-time with Tommy Thompson, and it is races like the one in Seattle that bring it to light even more. He’ll compete against the likes of Brown, who has three straight wins at the facility, Brittany Force, Doug Kalitta and Clay Millican at Pacific Raceways, but Palmer treasures these moments.
“It’s still cool every time we go to a race like this,” Palmer said. “Tommy and myself are friends, and it’s only been three years since he started helping us. You go back four years ago and there was not even a slim chance we were going to win many rounds, let alone a race. Now we’re representing a title sponsor at a race. I never in my life thought this would happen and I want to make the best of it. It’s been a perfect fit and I want to be in that final in Seattle.”
Capps will try for three wins in four years at Pacific Raceways in Funny Car, but it won’t be easy in a class filled with stars like points leader Robert Hight, Tommy Johnson Jr., who won in Denver, defending world champ J.R. Todd, John Force, Jack Beckman and Bob Tasca III.
Chris McGaha, who won the Pro Stock race in Norwalk, is the most recent winner at Seattle when it comes to active drivers. He’ll look for his second win in 2019 against class standouts like Greg Anderson, who won in Denver, points leader Bo Butner, Matt Hartford and Alex Laughlin.
The event also features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series as well, showcasing the future stars of the sport, as well as the Mickey Thompson Tires NHRA Top Fuel Harley Drag Racing Series.
Along with the exciting on-track action, the Magic Dry Organic Absorbent NHRA Northwest Nationals will honor first responders with NHRA’s “Salute to First Responders” celebration.
NHRA fans can take part in the Mello Yello Walking Tour to see the cars and teams hard at work in the pits. Fans can also attend Nitro School to learn how the cars operate and reach their thrilling speeds. Pacific Raceways will host a Mello Yello autograph session and allow fans to meet their favorite drivers as well as the Cruising with Castello Sealmaster Track Walk hosted by NHRA announcer Joe Castello. Another can’t-miss experience is the winner’s circle celebration on Sunday after racing concludes. NHRA fans are invited to congratulate the winners of the event as they celebrate their Magic Dry Organic Absorbent NHRA Northwest Nationals victories.
As always, fans can interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 3:00 and 6:15 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 2 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Aug. 3, at 1:45 and 4:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 4.
There will be live qualifying coverage on FS1 at 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Aug. 2, with additional live qualifying on FS1 at 5 p.m. ET on Aug. 3. FS1 will televise more qualifying at 10:30 p.m. on Aug. 3, with three hours of live finals coverage shifting to FOX at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday, Aug. 4.